BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

09/10/2020 - 09/10/2020

NZ Improv Festival 2020: Close To Home

Production Details

One ticket, two shows – our Festival Double Headers give you twice the improv and twice the awesome!

Hall Monitors: Amelia Cartwright, Ben Jardine, Liz Butler and Max Porozny

Time Out explores the relationships of four students in detention. Think coming of age romance, teenage angst, and awkward self-awareness — think painful self-discovery. You’ll see different sides of these characters as they reckon with themselves, with life, and with each other. Where Breakfast Club showed you a glimpse of these characters, Time Out puts you in the room.

Based in Wellington the Hall Monitors create heartfelt and comedic scenes for our collective entertainment! Time Out was first performed at Late Night Knife Fight, winning June 2020’s bout.

Oliver Probert, David Bowers-Mason, Bethany Miller, Matt Carroll

An improvised half hour story with improvised characters and hilarious dialogue!
Somewhere along the road however, a small drop of ominous snow begins to fall. A step towards the shadows, before you know it the world around you begins to strip away completely, and the truth emerges. Dark, twisted, terrifying truths become clearer and no-one will be safe. Maybe you find that helpful old man from across the road, was collecting corpses in his basement, maybe the forgetful school teacher you learnt History from finds an alien has laid an egg in her brain, it’s impossible to know, until you see the show.

Dreadful Midnight is (de)composed of improvisers from many backgrounds, brought together with a passion to tell dark, twisted stories that haunt the audiences, following them home like a psychopathic shadow.

BATS Theatre, The Random Stage
9 October 2020
Full Price $20
Group 6+ $18
Concession Price $15

The Random Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.

NZ Improv Fest: Close To Home takes place at BATS Theatre
Performance programme 6-10 October 2020
Workshops 3, 4, 10 October 2020

Learn more at and don’t miss a moment!

Theatre , Improv ,

1 hr

Meticulously physical | Warping the familiar

Review by Malcolm Morrison 10th Oct 2020


The first part of the latest double header from the New Zealand Improv Festival is Hall Monitors: Time Out – an improvised story taking place in a high school detention with Breakfast Club vibes, directed by Matt Powell. We watch the four students – played by Amelia Cartwright, Ben Jardine, Liz Butler and Max Porozny – as they awkwardly interact to try and pass the time in this naturalistic improv show, accompanied by the subtle tones of Matt Carroll on the keyboard. 

Before the show even begins, we are approached in the foyer of BATS by the cast as they collect inspiration for their characters. We are asked to describe the times that we got into trouble at school, which the cast hastily writes down. 

The show itself begins wonderfully slowly. We are greeted by eight chairs on the stage, arranged in an ever-familiar classroom grid, yet no cast to be seen. A school bell rings and the out-of-breath Jared (Porozny) slowly stumbles down the centre stairs of the audience seating, walks over to a corner seat, pauses, then vigorously shakes an inhaler. The audience delights at every subtle action he takes.

After a few beats, Brooks (Jardine) strolls down the stairs with the gait of a lanky teen trying hard to seem unaffected and sits a few chairs away from Jared. There is no conversation, only occasional glances. Following this, the impressionable Teresa (Butler) enters with a comically oversized bag. Finally, after another minute or so, Gloria (Cartwright) appears, sliding down a handrail to arrive on stage.

This whole opening sequence from before the show, to about ten minutes in, is delightful. The calmness and absolute commitment to character utterly captivates the audience, with laughter arising from the smallest actions and the interactions between the cast of, at times, painfully empathisable teenagers. Separating the “this is improvised” sequence of getting inspiration from the show itself allows the immediate immersion into the truth of these characters and the silence seals the deal. It takes well over five minutes of this delightful silence before it is broken by Jared bluntly asking, “Do you guys know how to delete Facebook?”

The show continues with awkward yet charming interactions between the teenagers, punctuated by the occasional monologue, providing us a deeper insight to the minds of these people. We see them play truth and dare, resulting in Brooks calling up the school nurse as a prank backfiring; interacting with a dead bird they found by the window, each character reacting in delightful different ways; and discussing romance in that awkward teenage way. 

The joy of this show comes from seeing the meticulously physical cast interact in well-meaning ways, yet with varying levels of EQ. The laughter of empathy is heard frequently from the audience watching these self-centered teens blow every small thing out of proportion as they try to understand each other and themselves. 

Overall Time Out is a delight to watch. It is the kind of improv where any distinction between improvised and scripted is irrelevant, all that matters are the characters and the audience’s immersion. The cast presents us a set of recognisable teenagers and delight us with their interactions. Anyone who sees this show will leave having had a great time and wanting more.


The second part of the double header is the horror improv show Dreadful Midnight, performed by Oliver Probert, David Bowers-Mason, and Bethany Miller, with Matt Carroll providing ominous musical accompaniment and Darryn Woods on lights.

This show begins in quite a fun way: the three actors present themselves in front of the audience as psychics, giving off a paranormal investigation vibe. They elicit an ask-for – the inspiration for the show – from the audience in the style of a psychic cold reading. This is highly enjoyable, if a little confusing initially, but they eventually get the location of “the Cake Tin” from an audience member.

What follows is an unstructured, long form style improv show, presenting us with characters and exploring their story as things slowly get more sinister. The cast take a while to find their footing, with the early scenes feeling a bit aimless and the relationships between the characters being unclear. The horror elements come abruptly with the only indication of anything sinister being the chilling ambience provided by Carroll. However, the story finds its feet once the horror elements are introduced.

One description of horror I have heard is that it is the warping of the familiar: a decrepit doll, or hospital and the like. Dreadful Midnight seems to have taken this description to heart. My own and, judging by the audience’s reaction, everyone else’s favourite scene i the climax of the show. After being kidnapped and drugged, our main character (Probert) finds himself waking up in a sealed room. Bowers-Mason then performs the creepiest job interview in this Saw-like captive situation. The juxtaposition of being a terrified captive and playing-out interview questions such as “Can you describe a time when you had to show leadership?” captures this trope wonderfully. 

Overall the show is enjoyable, if initially a little shaky. There is great potential here and I would love to see where the team takes it after some refinement of the format. 


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